Ray Kelly Met Black and Latino Council Members to Discuss Gun Violence

By Jill Colvin on August 24, 2012 8:22am 

NEW YORK CITY — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had a long-awaited meeting Thursday with members of the City Council's minority caucus to discuss rising gun violence in the city, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.

Kelly and other top police brass listened as council members shared their concerns about the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy. The two sides, however, also discussed new ways to clamp down on the rising tide of violence plaguing communities of color, sources who attended the meeting said.

“We have pledged to work together in order to reduce the crime and reduce the shootings that are happening in the communities that we represent,” said City Councilman Robert Jackson, co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.

Jackson, who represents upper Manhattan and attended the meeting with Kelly, believes the NYPD and council members had turned over a new leaf.

“We’re going to be talking a lot more," he said.

As part its new efforts, the NYPD is planning to announce that it will double the payout for its Cash-for-Guns program, from $100 to $200 starting Monday, as part of a one-week gun-buyback blitz, Jackson said.

The meeting, held Thursday morning, was a long time coming for the politicians. It came after months of clashes between Kelly and council members over a rising tide of gun violence, which has rocked neighborhoods throughout the summer.

Rev. Al Sharpton, too, had called on Kelly to convene a summit on gun violence with stop-and-frisk critics last month.

As tempers flared, Kelly accused some politicians in communities of color of turning a blind eye to the violence and failing to come up with alternatives as they slammed the stop-and-frisk policy. The council members, in turn, accused the NYPD of discrimination and unfairly targeting young Latinos and blacks.

Gathered at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, the elected officials spent two hours with Kelly and commanding officers from Brooklyn, Manhattan and The Bronx, sharing concerns and brainstorming ideas.

Much of the discussion centered on stop-and-frisk, with members describing the negative impact on their communities and the need for more courteous treatment when people are stopped, they said.

Members also shared their concerns about reductions in the size of the police force, which is down nearly 6,000 officers since 2001.

The two sides also discussed other strategies to stem the recent violence, including community-based programs and a renewed focus on gun-buyback programs, which Kelly had once compared to "chicken soup" — helpful but not a cure-all.

“What I expressed to the commissioner, was I hope that we can work together with the NYPD to continue decreasing the number of innocent people being stopped-and-frisked at the same time...work together to reduce crime in our city,” said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was also in attendance.

He pointed to recent stats showing a significant drop in the number of stops logged during the first quarter of this year, as new training has been out in place.

“I hope that this conversation will set the tone on continuing to improve the relationship between the NYPD and elected officials citywide," he said. "The tone of the conversation was very friendly."

An NYPD spokesman did not respond to questions about the meeting Thursday.

But Kelly seemed to be pleased, Jackson said, inviting members to a follow-up meeting at One Police Plaza for a tour of the types of tools police have to target crime.

“The bottom line is that it was held [Thursday]. It was a good meeting — two hours — and we all left looking forward to working closer together," he said.

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